Friday, July 29, 2016

Kuppa Joy - Fresno & Clovis, CA

Kuppa Joy (Website)
Original location in Clovis:
518 Clovis Avenue
Clovis, CA 93612

Newer location in Fresno:
1900 N Echo Avenue
Fresno, CA 93704

I highly recommend this place!

I've loved everything about this place: The atmosphere, the friendly employees, the interesting menu options, the homemade-looking pastries, the latte/coffee art, and the delicious coffee. Another awesome fact about this place is that its founder is a Clovis native named Zack Follett, who played pro football for the Detroit Lions. He decided to bring back the joy of a coffee shop he visited in London to the Clovis/Fresno area with the goal of connecting to his community. He has also spread the love and joy of God through this business, which I think is an amazing thing whether or not you are a Christian. 

This cinnamon roll was sooo good warmed up, and it was just perfect with my coffee, which I'll describe below.

Sometimes I like to buy myself a pastry and a coffee (black if with a pastry) or just a coffee and enjoy them alone. I think it's perfectly fine to go to restaurants and cafes by yourself. One time at the UC Berkeley Crossroads dining commons I got breakfast or lunch by myself, and a peer saw me and made fun of me for being there alone. I believe he expressed his shock and then said, "That's sad." I was already slightly self-conscious about not having my usual floormates and friends from Units 1 and 2, but I didn't see anything wrong with being independent. Ever since that meal I decided it's not cool to make fun of people for eating alone. People do it all the time. If anything, it shows that you don't NEED others to be happy.
How can you resist?

"The Fire" pour over: I believe this is actually my first pour over. The idea is that the coffee is made individually for someone to drink. How you pour the water over the beans affects how the drink turns out. I guess it's like the idea of "small batch" chocolate and other delicious things. It's more personal and isn't made exactly the same for each person. Anyway, "The Fire" is a new menu option that's a Nicaragua/Brazil blend with a medium/dark roast profile. Kuppa Joy states that it has notes of "Campfire Smore // Toffee // French Toast," but my cousin (Eric) and I are not really sure how people identify these notes. I guess I could taste these flavors if I thought about it, but I'm guessing they just need a way to describe the flavor to people who are considering their options. Anyway, the main point is that I enjoyed this coffee very much and would order it again. I love darker blends, and this didn't taste bitter or burnt at all to me. Speaking of Eric, he's pretty much my go-to person for local and Bay Area food and drink recommendations. He also lived in SoCal, so I could always ask him about that area too. He strongly recommends the almond croissant from Kuppa Joy, which I was going to try yesterday, but they were out! I'll try again.
The Fire up close
Below is a Kuppa Joy I ordered from the Clovis location on 12/30/15 when my dear friend and former classmate and roommate (I forgot we took MCB together!), Kurtis, was in town. We used to study at libraries and cafes like FSM (Free Speech Movement Cafe) together while at Cal, and I even remember us waiting outside of a library for it to open on a Sunday. Nerdy much? Lol Who cares? I actually started to enjoy studying probably because of the good company and coffee. I conditioned myself well. This time we studied together again but for grad school/work instead of undergrad classes. Good memories. The Kuppa Joy is espresso blended‏ with chocolate and creme brulee-infused milk. Love it! Not too sweet. I could have ordered another one easily.
Kuppa Joy at the Clovis location
Below is a regular cappuccino from the Fresno location on Echo. Also delicious and just beautiful! I think latte art makes everyone happy and excited, and it's perfect for Instagram. :)

The pour over bar at the Clovis location
Inside the Fresno location
It says "Kuppa Joy," but you can't see the "y."

Monday, July 18, 2016

Cookiebar - Alameda, CA

1606 Webster Street
Alameda, CA 94501
Second location in Oakland)

Grace took me to this awesome ice cream/cookie/ice cream sandwich place in Alameda the other day when I visited the Bay Area. Check out their Yelp ratings if you don't believe me! Yum! We both thought their peanut butter chocolate pretzel ice cream was really good. Everything was good, although we both agreed that the Cinnamon Toast Crunch ice cream needed some more cinnamon flavor. It tasted exactly like whole milk leftover from eating a bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch (except a little creamier than just milk), but it didn't have a strong cinnamon or Cinnamon Toast Crunch flavor. I'd definitely go back!

Peanut butter chocolate pretzel ice cream for me and Cinnamon Toast Crunch ice cream between a snickerdoodle cookie and an oatmeal cookie for Grace! Everything was delicious!

Oo..cookies 'n' cream cookies!
Even the font made me want to try their ice cream!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Brown Butter Vanilla Bean Frosting

OMG! I rarely post right after I make something, but I was SO excited about this recipe when I tried it yesterday that I had to post about this ASAP. I randomly stumbled on it while looking for a good vanilla cupcake recipe (I wasn't even looking for a frosting recipe!). If you like browned butter, YOU HAVE TO TRY THIS. It is so good and so easy to make.

Browning the butter
Note: You don't usually need to whisk anything while browning butter; just swirling it in the pan works, but I figured I should follow the recipe's instructions since this was my first time browning butter with vanilla bean specks in it!
My browned butter
You can see the browned butter bits AND vanilla bean specks!
Recipe here from Self Proclaimed Foodie (I made minor changes like using a hand mixer instead of a stand mixer)

* Note: Makes 2 cups or enough for 12 cupcakes (You can add more frosting on your cupcakes than I did; I was playing it safe and only adding the amount of frosting I usually prefer...although after finding this recipe I prefer more!!)
  • 1/2 cup (one stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 vanilla beans, split lengthwise (I used 1.5 beans because that was what I had)
  • 3 cups confectioner's sugar
  • 3 tablespoons milk or half and half
  1. In a saucepan (medium heat), melt butter with vanilla beans (specks and throw in the leftover pods too). Whisk frequently. As the butter foams, continue whisking to release brown bits that may stick to the bottom. Once the butter has browned (once you start to see brown specks, the butter turns a brownish color, and it starts smelling more nutty), remove from heat. Remove vanilla bean pods from butter.
  2. Using the whisk attachment on a stand mixer or your hand mixer, beat cooled browned vanilla bean butter with the confectioner's sugar on medium speed.
  3. One tablespoon at a time, add milk (I used nonfat milk, but half and half or whole milk would work well, of course) & continue beating the frosting until you've reached the desired consistency.
In case you need a vanilla cupcake recipe too, I tried this recipe from Brown Eyed Baker and loved the flavor:

1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon table salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), room temperature
½ cup sour cream
1 large egg, room temperature
2 large egg yolks, room temperature
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line standard cupcake tin with paper or foil liners.
2. Beat together flour, sugar, baking powder, & salt w/ a mixer. Add butter, sour cream, egg and egg yolks, and vanilla; beat w/ a mixer at medium speed until smooth and satiny (about 30 seconds). Scrape down sides of bowl with rubber spatula and mix by hand until smooth.
3. Divide batter evenly among cups of prepared tin & bake until cupcake tops are pale gold and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean (20 to 24 minutes).
4. Remove cupcakes from tin & transfer to wire rack. Cool cupcakes to room temperature before frosting.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Recipe from Sprinkles: Strawberry Cupcakes!

If you haven't tried cupcakes from Sprinkles, you have to add that to your foodie bucket list. I've had a few now, and all of them have been perfectly flavorful and moist. The only thing I don't like is their signature nipple topper. You'll know what I mean when you see it. I've posted about Sprinkles here and about their Cuban Coffee cupcake here.

Anyway, I absolutely love this strawberry cupcake recipe. I've made them a few times now. The only change I made from Candace Nelson's original recipe was that I kept in some strawberry pieces instead of straining them out because they seem more fresh and less fake when you can see pieces or bits of fruit, nuts, etc. in my opinion. I wanted to make the frosting with my new decorating tips, but I was in a rush and just ended up using a butter knife.

Strawberry Cupcakes Recipe (adapted from Martha Stuart's website)
  • 2/3 cup whole fresh or frozen strawberries, thawed - Ends up being 1/3 cup strawberry puree
  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/4 cup whole milk, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 2 large egg whites, room temperature
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners & set aside.
  2. Put strawberries in a small food processor & process until pureed. You should have about 1/3 cup of puree (Save any extra puree for frosting)
    - I just diced strawberries and smashed them with a fork
  3. In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, & salt; set aside.
    In a small bowl, mix together milk, vanilla, & strawberry puree; set aside.
  4. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or with a hand mixer), cream butter on medium-high speed until light & fluffy. Gradually add sugar & beat until well combined & fluffy. Reduce the mixer speed to medium & slowly add egg & egg whites until just blended.
  5. With mixer on low, slowly add half the flour mixture; mix until just blended. Add milk mixture; mix until just blended. Slowly add remaining flour mixture until just blended.
  6. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups. Put muffin tin in oven & bake until tops are just dry to the touch (~22-25 minutes). Transfer muffin tin to a wire rack & let cupcakes cool completely in tin before icing.

Sprinkles's Strawberry Frosting Recipe (from Martha Stuart's website)

  • 1/2 cup whole frozen strawberries, thawed (I just use fresh strawberries) - You end up only needing 3 tablespoons of strawberry puree
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, firm and slightly cold
  • Pinch of coarse salt
  • 3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1) Place strawberries in the bowl of a small food processor & process until pureed.
     - I just diced fresh strawberries and smashed them with a fork
2) In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together butter & salt on medium speed until light & fluffy.
3) Reduce mixer speed & slowly add confectioners' sugar; beat until well combined.
4) Add vanilla & 3 tablespoons strawberry puree; mix until just blended. Do not overmix! Frosting should be dense and creamy. 

The inside. I kept the strawberry pieces in there too.